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Nibbling on dwindling food stocks, lacking crucial medications, sweltering in half-wrecked homes with only tainted water for washing and barely any for drinking: For many in Puerto Rico, Hurricane Maria’s aftermath has been even more harrowing than the mighty storm itself.
Amid growing warnings of a potential humanitarian crisis in the Caribbean island territory that is home to 3.4 million U.S. citizens, federal relief efforts were ramping up Wednesday, even as criticism mounted. Among the most urgent priorities were food and water deliveries for isolated, storm-pounded rural communities and distribution of diesel for generators to power vital services such as hospital equipment and sanitation systems.
% - Island - Residents - Power - Wednesday
About 97% of the island's residents still lacked power Wednesday, Gov. Ricardo Rossello said, and about half remain without running water.
On his Facebook page, Rossello posted a photo of a street intersection in the southeast coastal town of Humacao where someone had painted a huge SOS sign with the words, “Necesitamos agua/comida!” — “We need water and food.”
Officials - Help - Government - Delivery - Aid
Increasingly desperate local officials have demanded more help from the federal government, and faster delivery of what aid is coming.
“They’re going very slowly, the aid isn’t getting to people fast enough. We seem to be losing a lot of time in jurisdictional trifles,” San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz said in an interview Wednesday.
People - Time - That
“People are dying,” she said. “We don’t have time for that.”
The White House has fought back hard against complaints that the federal government’s response in Puerto Rico has been less robust than in hurricane-hammered Texas and Florida.
A-pluses - Texas - Florida - Trump - Reporters
“We’ve gotten A-pluses on Texas and on Florida,” Trump told reporters this week. “And we will also on Puerto Rico.”
Federal officials have cited logistical and geographical challenges in rushing aid to an island territory 1,000 miles from the U.S. mainland. And they have not discounted the difficulty of trying to mount...
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